MoveOn.org to poll members on endorsement; a new Reddit-like civic engagement app; and more.
- Long-form: Twitter is considering offering its users a 10,000 character limit, up from 140, Kurt Wagner reports for Re/Code. More details from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, here.
- On Slate, Will Oremus’ hot take is that this means Twitter is trying to “build a wall” to encompass stories that its users may post. “That’s because Twitter is struggling to compete with rivals like Snapchat, Instagram, and Tumblr, all of which are designed to keep users in rather than continually sending them out to the broader Web to view content,” he writes.
- Tech and the presidentials: Donald Trump may appear to be winging his campaign, only beginning to pour millions into traditional TV ads this week. But as Kenneth Vogel and Darren Samuelsohn report for Politico, for several months he actually has been working with “an experienced data team to build sophisticated models to transform fervor into votes.” True to form, Politico is hyping this story by calling it “Trump’s data juggernaut” but so far the operation looks more like a data rickshaw.
- MoveOn.org Political Action is launching a formal vote of its membership to see if should endorse a presidential candidate, starting tomorrow, its executive director Ilya Sherman announced. The group, which has an online membership of about 8 million, endorsed Barack Obama in 2008.
- This is civic tech: Capitol Bells launched a new “Reddit-like civic engagement” mobile app yesterday, and its founder Ted Henderson celebrated with an AMA on Reddit along with Alex Ebert, the lead singer of the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, who also happens to be a civic hacker (say what?!).
- Judging from the user comments, folks were a lot more interested in Ebert than Henderson, which is a shame because Capitol Bells’ new app is pretty intriguing. On top of giving users instantaneous updates about pending House or Senate votes, and allowing them to compare their preferences to their representatives (a trope of nearly every such app), CB also has a “Lobby” where users can anonymously post and poll each other on political gossip. (Think of that as Brigade without the real-name policy.) That said, Ebert’s new site, The New IRS, is also worth checking out. It gives users the opportunity to allocate government tax collections how they would like them to be spent and then compare that to the actual breakdown of government spending. He describes it as “a virtuality. an experience of a more powerful democracy, a talking piece, and a data collection point.”
- Here’s Ebert’s vision (per his AMA): “Political engagement must become facile, swift, and the results must feel and be immediately tangible – just like life. tech facilitates worldwide instantaneousness – a virtual town hall the world over – meaning real participatory democracy is, now, possible.” Dude!
- Here’s Ebert’s song for Bernie Sanders, “The Bern.” Should he stick to his day job?
- With the unprecedented release of detailed incident-level crime data by New York City’s police department, civic hackers are starting to build some great visualizations. Here’s CivicDashboard’s interactive map showing crime by type, neighborhood, volume, and month. And here’s IQuantNY’s detailed dissection of the data.
- You can now dive deep into the New York Public Library’s special collections of archival photographs, maps and other public domain files, as Jennifer Schuessler reports for the New York Times. Nearly 200,000 high-quality files are available for download, courtesy of NYPL Labs, along with APIs for using them more easily. Here’s a photo from the library’s collection of the entrance to Civic Hall’s 156 Fifth Ave address, from 1911. Kudos to the library for taking such an open approach!
- mySociety’s second TICTeC 2016, its research conference on the impacts of civic tech, is taking place in Barcelona April 27-28, and the call for papers is now open.